Monthly Archives: January 2016

IBM Accomplishment & Success – Project ‘Apple Pay’ – by Nirjeet Singh Gorvara

Yes Apple Pay is here and the UK is the first market outside of the US to have this. How exciting!

By now, many of you will have seen, heard of and experienced this – I’m going to explore in a bit more depth to explain what it really means.

Apple Pay went live on the 14th July for some of the largest UK Banks and Building Society.

Here is a short clip about the Apple Pay announcement by Jennifer Bailey on the 9th of June at the WWDC 2015. Please watch from 35:42 to 41:30.

Currently I have worked across 3 different client accounts within IBM and one of the most resonant words I have come across is ‘Digitalisation’. Now what it means is making the customer journey Faster, Easier and more Accessible.

 

So what is it?

Apple Pay is a digital wallet. Yes a digital wallet where you now don’t have to carry cash anymore. You might question this now, as leaving the house without a wallet is still an alien concept! If we don’t carry our cash or our wallet how will we buy anything?

Remember the days when you lost your card and had to wait for a few days before you could get a replacement? Well you don’t have to wait anymore because if your card is lost or stolen and once you have reported the issue to your bank, your new card details will generated within 24 hours and updated on your phone the next day. How cool is this?

 

The physical card will still take the same number of days until it’s reached to you but that does not mean you are on ‘stop’ as the new card details will come through on your device.

This is where the word Digitalisation comes in. Apple Pay is the new way forward in storing your card details on your device as an image and using it as a means of payment. This can be done in stores and online. It just goes to show how far our mobile devices have advanced from the initial customer need to make a phone call! Now it can serve as a payment device, too.

 

Who can use it?

Only Apple Users so far, and to use this you must have one of the following devices:

  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • Apple Watch
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad Mini 3

Apple Pay will be available for any new devices Apple chooses to release in the future.

 

How secure is it?

  • Process of checkout is One-touch. This is a finger touch you press on the home button when authorising the payment and this can’t be done by anyone other than yourself. Back to the Future predicted thumbprint technology in 1985 – and today, through advances in modern technology it’s a reality and part of normal operational life.
  • There is no long Card number entry.
  • There is no need to input your address.
  • There is no Card Information being shared with the merchant.
  • If your phone is stolen you can instantly log into iCloud or ring your bank to deactivate Apple Pay.
  • Your Card number will be replaced by a device account number (token).
  • Apple does not collate any information on your transactions.
  • If the physical card details are stolen and for some reason it is able to perform Apple Pay transactions then banks are 100% liable for this and you will always receive a full refund.

 

Why should you use it?

It’s easy, secure and sounds cool!

It’s the way forward. Nowadays consumers are more attached to our phones than anything else.   The concept of a digital wallet sounds very appealing. Technology is moving very fast and ‘Digitalisation’ means that interactions between devices are common place. So why not have a digital wallet which has everything in one place?

 

What was my role when I was working for this Apple Pay Project?

This project was very fast paced and high-profile with critical deadlines to deliver for the client.

As part of this project my role was a Functional Tester. I was involved in the following Functional Testing areas covering execution, test preparation, analysing documents, creating scope documents and raising critical defects.

  • Smoke Testing
  • System Testing
  • System Integration Testing
  • Regression Testing
  • Writing test scripts on Application Lifecycle Management.
  • Raising defects and chasing them through to conclusion.
  • Re-testing defects to verify it is fixed
  • Creating and writing scope documents
  • Analysing documents such as Design, IT requirements, functional spec etc.

In addition working closely with the client and the following stake holders ensuring defects during the execution have been recorded properly, chasing through to conclusion and are being re-tested in the expected manner.

  • Environment Support Team
  • Developers
  • Defect Manager
  • Business Analyst
  • Test Architect
  • Test Leads
  • Test Manager
  • Deployment Manager

It was a proud moment for me to be part of the IBM Test Team that delivered this to our client within the 5 months of critical deadlines. For me being part of this project was very exciting and knowing we were one of the first in UK to do this with our client was an achievement in itself. IBM focuses on achieving Client/Customer satisfaction and by delivering this project we have not only accomplished this but also received excellent feedback both from our client and Apple. The highlight of achievement in the end was that we received a very positive feedback and not a single negative social media sentiment.

So this was about Apple Pay hope you found it useful and interesting.

One of many IBM’s Successes I have been involved in.

by Nirjeet Singh Gorvara

10 Tips to get that technical role – Simon Ainslie

Before I get started with the tips I thought it would be best to give a little introduction to myself. So my name is Simon and I began the IBM apprenticeship scheme over 2 and a half years ago now. When I joined I had the goal of becoming a Software Developer. Unlike a lot of other apprentices, I knew that’s what I wanted to do and I was very keen to achieve it. After 2 and a half years in the scheme I am now sat in a Web Developer role and am looking onto how best I can maintain and progress my technical career. However getting this role and working effectively within it, was and is the hardest things I have done at IBM. It challenged a lot of my expectations and there was an incredible amount of work that went into giving myself the opportunity and maintaining my role. After just over a year in this role (and soon to be progressing out of the apprenticeship scheme), I feel I am in a good position to now advise other apprentices joining the scheme who are keen to progress a career as a developer. I felt the easiest way to do this would be through top 10 tips, which I have integrated with personal experience…

Top 10 tips to get the technical role you want

Self-study

First and foremost you need to be committed to this as a career, there is no point just expecting it to work out it. If you want to do a specific technical role you need to show your commitment, not just through IBM courses or the giveback you did the other year. You need to show a personal commitment – time. There are so many resources online that are not necessarily IBM related that can teach you skills to help you sell yourself to that person when they think about giving you a chance. For example within software development, you should be teaching yourself the basics. There are a lot of different programming languages and technologies out there. Learn about them. Learn how to build small applications in a programming language. A good first goal is building yourself a website CV or a simple mobile application. Something you can tell and show people you have done. The reason for this is simple – most people in developer roles (and other skilled technical roles) will have a degree, that’s the long and short of it. So give yourself the best chance at competing with them. Make sure you have invested personal time in your future, it will pay off in the long run, trust me.

IBM Courses –

The IBM apprenticeship scheme gives you some freedom to choose personal targets for the year, use this to tell your manager what it is you want to do. For example set yourself the target, I want to get a basic understanding in C#. Then make sure you go online, research and speak to others in the area and find yourself a good course. It’s a great opportunity to commit time to improving your skillset. However there is a big mistake made by people who do this, not using it. You come back from your course and you feel like you know C# (or whatever you pick), good for you, and it is a great step in the right direction. What happens when your great opportunity comes along a year later, you tell people you know it because you did a course on it and when it comes to it you have forgotten everything? Once you come back from the course, set yourself personal projects and targets. Don’t just go on a course but use it, use it as a platform to build off of, Make sure you maintain and build on those skills.

Share knowledge gained

This may sound like you are sharing your skills and therefore putting everyone at the same level as you right? Why would you want to do that? Wrong. Presenting, documenting and sharing technical skills just improves you knowledge and as a bonus people tend to notice that you have done it. Knowing how to do something and having enough knowledge to teach others are very different. Therefore share, and show others how to do it, it will both improve your understanding and make you more confident in your skills. It’s also another thing to show the person you haven’t met yet who will give you an opportunity at some point. Building that portfolio of skill sand what you have done with them is important. They will ask you what you can do, and as with everything in IBM, they will ask you to prove it. The more ways you can do that the better.

Get involved in things inside and outside of IBM

This tip is aimed at communities and therefore ties into the networking side of things a little. It’s a little more than that though, join technical communities both inside and outside of IBM. There are countless communities of people sharing ideas, problems and advice. It makes sense to be part of this on the bigger scale, however not just to be a name on a list. That’s a wasted chance, be active, ask questions, respond to questions if you can but above all show your interest. We have already covered how there is a lot to know, but you can access good communities of professionals sharing tips and tricks both inside and outside of IBM.

Get a mentor

One of the best tips I was given was to get a mentor, it is by far one of the most important things on this list. As a guide look for a mentor who is further on in there technical career than you however in a position to provide you with guidance and insight that will help you progress. Personally I now have a few mentors, each from different areas of the business who help me in different ways. It is easier said than done to find a mentor and to ask someone you want to be a mentor and to do it. It involves a little bit of jumping in the deep end. Personally the best thing I can suggest is if you go to an event, or are part of a team or even go to a dinner with someone who really knows a lot about the path you want to get on. Just ask, it’s as simple as that. You can ask them, face to face, via e-mail or however you feel comfortable, just make sure you do it. A good point to remember if you are nervous or unsure is that in the higher bands of IBM people are encouraged to be mentors so chances are they will want to help.

Pick the right giveback

There are giveback projects that ask people to create an application and use technical skills (See share knowledge gained). If you can’t find any there is also always scope to come up with your own giveback project. But make sure the giveback you are doing can help you progress. As I have already mentioned investing your own time in the right way is important, and this is the same for how you invest downtime into giveback. As an apprentice the giveback you do will separate you from the rest, however (contrary to popular belief) it is more about quality than it is quantity. If you have been into 50 schools this year and done a talk about the apprenticeships that’s good. However if you have invested time into building or changing something that it now benefiting the client, the team, you or anyone then from personal experience I think that’s a more worthwhile.

Patents

Innovative thinking is important and respected in IBM, it’s worth investing a little time each month (normally as part of a team of 4) into seeing if you can come up a patent worthy idea. Also knowing and going through the process can be worth as much as the patent. Knowing the process and having made a few submissions (regardless of the result) enables you to provide help, support and communication with others who participate in this side of IBM. Manny of whom will be technical people. It’s a good example of an activity and community that can get you talking to those people who can help you build your career. It’s also worth mentioning that Master and Senior Inventors are encouraged to help and mentor younger teams, so there is a lot of support out there if you are keen on getting a patent to your name. This is more of a suggestion that can help if you are interested and less of an essential part of beginning your technical career.

Tactical networking

This one is less about improving your skills and knowledge and a little more about actually getting the role. Firstly if you are going to events and joining communities, make sure you network. Introduce yourself and have a chat with anyone and everyone. People will bang on at you about networking, and you will be bored of the word. But there is a reason they bang on about it, it’s really useful. You are expanding the number of people you can ping and ask about roles, opportunities and advice. You are expanding the number of people who will message you, that will increase your eminence (another buzzword so sorry for that) as a technical person if you do it right and that’s always a good thing. Secondly when you do meet these people through all the stuff you are doing make sure why you are doing it is in your personal introduction. Most new interactions start with your name and what you do. I suggest you add a ‘But I am looking to move into a **Insert role you want here** when I get the opportunity’. The more people that you tell what you want to do, the more people there are who might ping you the name offering something in that area or forward an e-mail that might lead to what you want. I guess the overall point here is that someone somewhere has the ability to give you the opportunity, and the more people helping you find that, the better.

Taking the opportunity

When someone does mention to you that there might be scope for the role you want chances are they will need to be won round, I mean, why would they give the role to you over a grad who has more experience in that area? That is the question you need to be able to answer. And if you give the right answer they may still consider you. It’s not easy taking a maybe and making it into a yes. For me I had to go to the account partners a couple of times and work with them on a business case to put me in the role. I worked with them and gave them every reason to give me a chance and thankfully it paid off. You will need to do the leg work, you should chase people, show them how much you want it.

Commit to succeeding

Finally being a skilled technical person is not an easy role to get. But don’t give up. It took me a year of being in IBM before I got lucky and met someone, who knew someone, who managed a development team. Some people will get lucky quicker and for some it will take longer. But stick to it, keep working and keep investing in yourself, it will pay off. It’s just a matter of time. Getting and maintaining the role I am now in has been one of the biggest challenges for me and it has not been easy at all, but it has been worth every bit of effort. If you are interested I encourage you to continue on working for that role.

To conclude, the last year and a half has been incredibly hard for me, however it’s been worth it. The tips above are things that I found out along the way and I hope that they help you to achieve your technical role. If you are reading this to see how my top tips compare with your experiences please share them in the comments. If you have any questions again please use the comments. I look forward to hearing other opinions and responses.

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings!

Simon

Is Networking All It’s Cracked Up To Be? – Gus Parkhouse.

In my first few days at IBM it seemed that one in every five words was “Networking”, now I’m a year in I can see why this was emphasised so much. I know working for a tech company you’re probably thinking why is computer networking so important to IBM and why does everyone keep talking about it? Although computer networking is important as connects components and nodes this blog is all about social and workplace networking. I’ve started to really see the benefits from good networking and constantly growing my network, these benefits are;

  • Opportunities
  • Connections – knowing people in different places
  • Advice
  • Positive Influence
  • Confidence
  • Friendship
  • Feedback

Through speaking to my line manager I have found many opportunities such as moving from an account in London to one closer to my home in Manchester, allowing me to spend more time with friends and also allowing me to be more sociable outside of work without having to stay in rented accommodation. Without knowing who to approach this would have been a lot more of a strenuous and time consuming task. It also helped me to know who to approach with certain aspects of work, for example Cognitive computing, as I found that just knowing one person in this area was positive as it helped to open up doors to other members of that team and eventually help progress an extremely tricky task.

Since starting as an apprentice in IBM and building a great network of apprentice architects in one base location, I have now moved to the other side of the country and don’t have the pleasure of seeing apprenticeship colleagues on a daily basis anymore. But this hasn’t stopped me from networking with them, it just changed the ways in which I do it. Face to face turned into instant messaging, phone call, text messages and e-mails. I still ask this network the questions that I feel would defy the quote “There’s no such thing as a stupid question” and they’re happy to help. I went from working in an office with distinguished engineers to working from home for 3 weeks, during this time I had to call upon my network for the majority of information needed. I found working remotely from home a very big challenge as I was getting minimal human interaction which is the opposite of what I had the week before. I also created some new connections in this period with the Chief Architect of the new account I was heading on too. My new network connections into the architects team came in incredibly handy when on-boarding and learning what was vital to learn and what could wait.

When I had settled in my new account, I was advised that a new Deputy Chief Architect was joining the account. When he arrived on the account I took the time to sit down and have a chat with him that eventually turned in to going to grab some lunch to get know more about what he had previously done and what he was expecting of me, but also a less work related chat about what he was interested in that turned into him becoming a mentor for me and helping me with architecture and learning.

On the new account I have been able to expand my network further in a very short amount of time as I now work with such a vast team, this networking has helped me to expand my knowledge and get involved in a lot more tasks. This ever expanding networking has been great for helping my confidence in meetings with both the client and senior members of the team as they are there to reinforce the information I’m putting forward. Not forgetting to mention the social benefits of being involved in a mixed team, and all of the networking I have taken part in has helped me to develop my LinkedIn profile and help create a strong virtual network.

At the beginning, I won’t lie, I was very skeptical about the hype around “Networking” but now after just a year I can see that this is and will always be a massively important tool throughout my career. I would now say I agree with the old proverb “It’s not what you know but who you know” and can see where it possibly came from.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, feel free to message me on LinkedIn for any questions. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/gus-parkhouse-288855101)

Gus Parkhouse.